Carefree in Killcare – the perfect weekend getaway
Justine Tyerman, 61, is a New Zealand journalist, travel writer and sub-editor. Married for 36 years, she lives in rural surroundings near Gisborne on the East Coast of New Zealand with her husband Chris.
Like most patriotic Kiwis, I have always maintained a lofty opinion that no Aussie landscape could compete with New Zealand’s beaches, lakes, mountains and national parks.
But a recent trip to the New South Wales’ Central Coast has made me recant. I feel almost apologetic, even guilty, but I am about to rave about a special place I discovered last month on the Bouddi Peninsula.
We spent a long weekend in the small beachside settlement of Killcare, 90 minutes’ drive or a short seaplane hop from Sydney. Our accommodation was the Killcare Beach House, a stunning beachfront house recommended to us by Luxe Houses who market the property.
It makes me feel traitorous to my Kiwi roots to utter such words, but the landscape there is simply awesome - necklaces of pristine beaches separated by rugged headlands with bizarre rock formations where enormous waves crash against sheer cliffs sending curtains of foamy spray metres into the air.
We hiked along spectacular coastal tracks which took us to remote beaches where the sand is golden and squeaks underfoot like fresh powder snow.
The water, even in July, was still warm enough for swimming and in a sunny pool sheltered from the breakers by giant rocks at the far end of Killcare, children splashed and played as if it was mid-summer. The air temperature was a balmy 23-25 degrees compared with a chilly 8-10 at home.
My only exposure to Australian beaches in the past has been Sydney’s Bondi, Tamarama, Bronte and Coogee, tourist hot-spots seething with people year-round. But Killcare and neighbouring Maitland and Tallow beaches are all but deserted at this time of the year, apart from a few surfers and dog-walkers. Our Sydney-based daughter found the seclusion and lack of people blissful after the stresses of life in the big city... and being only 100km away, Killcare is easily do-able for a weekend.
The region is part of the Bouddi National Park and is rich in wildlife and Aboriginal history. Around 100 Aboriginal sites have been discovered on the peninsula, including middens, rock engravings and rock shelters of the Guringai people, the traditional custodians of the region.
On our walks, we learned about the fascinating geological phenomenon of tessellated pavement where sandstone rock has been fractured over millions of years of weathering and erosion into rectangles resembling a pavement or mosaic floor. I found myself wondering how I could possibly prise them loose and take them home. How wonderful they would be as garden paving.
We stayed right on the beach at Killcare in a substantial home that accommodates eight adults and eight children in four bedrooms plus a huge, sunny bunkroom. The three-level design of the home allows for all age groups to have their own space. Every room has magnificent ocean views and the bedrooms, including the bunkroom, open onto balconies.
The middle floor houses the main entrance foyer, living, lounge, kitchen and dining area.
The kitchen with its 6.7m marble bench and 3.8m island is designed to handle large gatherings. The long oval dining table, made from weathered recycled wood, is forgiving and fuss-free. There’s an outside dining option in a semi-enclosed patio beside the pool and a BBQ station which is so well-equipped, it’s really a second kitchen.
Plump, comfy couches, recliners, floor cushions, a wall-mounted wood-burner and a 62-inch flat-screen television make for a versatile, cosy, relaxed lounge with a stunning panorama of the beach.
There are also two queen bedrooms, two bathrooms and a large garage on the middle floor.
When in need of peace, the adults can take refuge in their top-floor, two-bedroom, two-bathroom retreat with a spacious lounge and flat-screen television.
The younger ones have their own sunny, lower-level rumpus room with chunky couches, trundler beds, a play station, flat-screen television and drawers stacked with books and games. Their bunkroom is right next door.
A clever design feature on this level is the separate entry from the beach with an outside shower and foot bath where little ones can be de-sanded before coming into the house. Towels and togs can be hung on an outside line in an enclosed patio or thrown in the huge washing machine which is part of a superb ground floor bathroom/laundry complex a small resort would be proud of.
While Killcare has the feeling of seclusion, within walking distance there are excellent cafes and restaurants including the award-winning Manfredi at Bells. Chef Stefano Manfredi is rated so highly, well-to-do Sydney-siders often catch a seaplane there just for lunch. But for casual lunches, you can’t beat the Killcare Beach Kiosk at the surf club building two minute’s stroll away. Delicious fish and chips and great value for money.
Killcare Beach House has an effortless warmth and liveability and is an ideal venue for two or even three generations to enjoy a trouble-free holiday.
And for those in need of R&R, the constant sound of the waves has a soporific, relaxing effect, soothing weary spirits. The all-glass frontage and elevation allow you to watch the ever-changing moods of the ocean, sand and sky, whatever the weather.
I loved the restful décor of the house and the way the sand-coloured floor tiles, earthy textures and fabrics echo the landscape.
Guests are spoilt with an abundance of Appelles spa products in every bathroom and the exquisite bespoke Cocolux candle scents, selected by Cocolux for Luxe Houses.
Having fallen in love with Killcare, I now suspect Australia has some other gems waiting for me to discover. Surely their mountains are not as grand as our Southern Alps... I’d better have a look.
*Justine Tyerman was a guest of Luxe Houses at Killcare Beach House.